I have worked with multiples for many years—and whether it is 2, 3, or even 6 (yes, I have helped take care of sextuplets), there is a special joy that comes from helping a family who is having multiples realize it will be OK, they will make it through this, and that I can show and teach them skills that will not only make their first few weeks and months of life manageable, but even enjoyable.
Many years ago, I earned the nickname “Triplet Nanny” while working with an amazing family in Scottsdale, Arizona. That family was particularly special to me because it had been a long time since I had done a live-in job, and it was such fun watching those babies grow and thrive. My dear friend Jenn used to say “it takes a special kind of weird to want to work with triplets” but honestly, I love it. That does not mean it doesn’t come with its own unique sets of challenges!
How exactly do you get three babies sleeping through the night, all in the same room, all at the same time, without them waking each other up? What do you do when one is sick? What do you do when one is crying? What do you do when the tiny one (3 lbs, 13 oz at birth) turns out to be fierce and determined? It is a challenge for sure, but it is also an amazing amount of fun!
Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with families of multiples many times, and each time, it is so amazingly rewarding to see how well the babies do and how well their parents learn to manage life with more than one baby at once! From installing all those car seats in the (new!) van and finding a way to make them all safely fit, to negotiating a giant stroller, to once again cleaning kitchen walls decorated with mashed bananas and avocado, parents of multiples have their hands full and I have gotten to be a part of it.
So how do they do it? What do I teach them? Let me share a few tips that make life with multiples easier; especially in that first challenging few months.
Tip #1: Get them on a schedule. We do respect that babies are individuals, of course, but when you are outnumbered 2 or 3 to 1, you also have to find practical ways to make that work. So provided everyone is healthy and doing well, as much as possible, feed them at once (or very close together), have everyone nap at once, sleep at night at the same time, etc…I know it sounds crazy, but if you don’t, you will literally never, ever sit down. And quality parent-partner time? Without a schedule, forget about it!
Tip #2: Remember this isn’t forever! The first year with multiples can be brutal some days; there is just no way to sugar coat it. But other days are pure fun and joy and as they get older, they do learn to play (and fight!) together well and it does get easier. You have the same music or baby gym class (even if someone has to come along to help), they start school together, they will eventually have the same homework and…eventually learn to drive at the same time. So remember it is temporary, and in the midst of the chaos, take time to enjoy the unique gift that only a few privileged parents get to share!
Tip #3: However you need to do it, nurture the relationship that got you into this in the first place. Even if it is hiring a sitter so you can go for a walk (because lets be real, you might not be able to afford a sitter and going out to dinner) every other week and just talk. Make the time. Because some day these beautiful babies are going to grow up and leave the nest and you will still have each other.
And finally, Tip #4: Find joy in the little things. It may seem like total chaos many days in your home, but in the midst of the blur, stop and count those toes (how many parents get to count 30 at once?), watch them sleep, tickle their bellies until they laugh and read to them. These moments are precious, and it can’t be said often enough—before you know it, they will be grown and gone.